Jul 5 2018
“Managing is making decisions, right? Managing well is making rational decisions – or so we’re told. We’re so steeped in a culture of “rationality” that we’re no more aware of it than a goldfish is aware of the water in the bowl. Yet rationality is a made-up thing, a construct, invented in Germany in the XIXth (as opposed to “reason” or being reasonable, which has been around for a much longer time and is much harder to define). Rationality implies that our actions are in line with the outcomes we seek – the reasons for these actions – premised on the idea that our beliefs are in line with our reasons to believe….”
Michel Baudin‘s comments: The title of the article appears to promote irrational decision making, which should be a hard sell. Michael Ballé seems to know what a goldfish is aware of, and I wonder how. According to Etymology OnLine, “rationality” actually is a 17th-century French word and, to this day, means the quality of being based on reason, not of being “aligned with a goal.” The German connection, perhaps, is Max Weber who described goal alignment as one of two subcategories of rationality in social behaviors (“Zweckrationalität”) in Economy and Society, a book published in 1922, after his death — that is, in the 20th century, not the 19th.
If you are a Lean expert, no one expects you to discuss German philosophy. If, however, you choose to go there, it helps if you start with a paragraph that withstands a 5-min fact check on Google. For an analysis of management decision making, I prefer to start with what Kaoru Ishikawa said in his book on TQC.